Air Astana posted a profit of US$39 million in 2017, returning to profit after its first ever loss in 2016.
The airline recorded passenger growth of 12 per cent and revenue growth of 22 per cent in 2017, after seeing both fall in 2015 and 2016 following the devaluation of the Kazakh Tenge in mid-2015.
The airline carried 4.2 million passengers in 2017 and recorded total revenues of US$754 million.
Air freight uplift also grew by 23 per cent.
Capacity grew by seven per cent, with new routes added between Astana-Delhi and Astana-Kiev, and increased frequencies on flights to Bangkok, Beijing, Dubai, Istanbul, London, Moscow, Novosibirsk, Omsk, St. Petersburg, Seoul, Tashkent, Tbilisi, Urumqi and Yekaterinburg.
The airline took delivery of its second Airbus A320 neo family, an A321, and confirmed an order for five Embraer new-generation E2 regional jets, with deliveries starting in October 2018, bringing its total outstanding aircraft orders to 23 (15 Airbus A320neo Family, five Embraer E2s and three Boeing 787s).
Commenting on the results, Air Astana president, Peter Foster, stated: “Astana Expo 2017 and increased transit business through the new terminal at Nursultan Nazarbayev Airport in Astana have been the main growth drivers.
“Expo was a great success and substantially exceeded its visitor target.
“Transit business grew by 58 per cent and is now 12 per cent of total business.
“Our comparatively low unit cost has enabled us to successfully grow this business segment by being competitive in key overseas markets, such as Russia, China, India and the EU, and smaller high growth markets such as Ukraine, Georgia and Uzbekistan.”
While growth is expected to continue into 2018, Foster cautioned that “the industry is operating at peak or near-peak capacity now in most regions, and costs - fuel, airport and other user charges, staff costs are under pressure.
“Cost control, whilst maintaining quality standards, will be the key challenge in the coming period.”